USING OUR WORDS: Refusing to use our inheritance!

SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2017

Also, our long love affair with war:
Since it's the weekend, might we enjoy some real full-blown erudition?

We'll start with our English language, which was invented long ago. Though actually, no one invented the English language, not even the seers who invented the claim about what Candidate Gore crazily said he invented.

According to the leading authority on the subject, the English language, with its several words, has actually developed over a period of quite a few years. We'll quote our expert source:
English has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years. The earliest forms of English, a set of Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the 5th century, are called Old English. Middle English began in the late 11th century with the Norman conquest of England, and was a period in which the language was influenced by French.

[...]

Old English developed from a set of North Sea Germanic dialects originally spoken along the coasts of Frisia, Lower Saxony, Jutland, and Southern Sweden by Germanic tribes known as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes.
In the fifth century, the Anglo-Saxons settled Britain and the Romans withdrew from Britain. By the seventh century, the Germanic language of the Anglo-Saxons became dominant in Britain, replacing the languages of Roman Britain (43–409 CE): Common Brittonic, a Celtic language, and Latin, brought to Britain by the Roman occupation.
Those Jutes! Borrowing from Steve Martin, they had a different word for everything!

Or possibly not. At any rate, this brings us to glorious Austin, with his observations concerning the usefulness of our quite a few words.

We refer to J. L. Austin, who might be thought of as a type of Wittgenstein gifted with clarity. Way back in 1956, he delivered A Plea for Excuses, the Aristotelian Society's presidential address.

Pay no attention to his ultimate subject matter! Along the way, he described our English language as the ultimate example of crowdsourcing—as a repository of all the distinctions people found useful over thousands of years:
AUSTIN (10/29/56): Our common stock of words embodies all the distinctions men [sic] have found worth drawing, and the connections they have found worth marking, in the lifetime of many generations: these surely are likely to be more numerous, more sound, since they have stood up to the long test of survival of the fittest, and more subtle, at least in all ordinary and reasonable practical matters, than any that you or I are likely to think up in our armchair of an afternoon—the most favourite alternative method.
According to Austin, the reason we have so many words is because millions of people, over thousands of years, found the distinctions they allow us to draw to be useful. Some of these distinctions probably come to us by way of the Jutes, in the language which eventually turned into modern-day English.

In some cases, Austin may have seemed to be speaking about minute distinctions. The leading authority on his work reminds us of a memorable bit of observation on his part:
An example of such a distinction Austin describes in a footnote is that between the phrases "by mistake" and "by accident." Although their uses are similar, Austin argues that with the right examples we can see that a distinction exists in when one or the other phrase is appropriate.
We're working from memory here. But if memory serves, Austin showed that English speakers would tend to agree on the circumstances in which it would make sense to use one or the other of those two phrases. That is:

Even though it might seem to us that the two phrases are interchangeable, we would all quickly agree that the one phrase was appropriate in Circumstance A, where the other phrase would be the one that fit Circumstance B. Our language equips us with the tools of minute distinctions, even if we're unaware of the breadth of the tools we possess.

Over thousands of years, millions of people have given us the inheritance of a rich assortments of words and locutions. We can use these tools to create an intelligent public discourse. Or we can decide to go to war with those we despise, in ways which are especially appealing at times of vast tribal partisanship.

Recently, we liberals have shown our love for the words "liar" and "lie." In one example, Masha Gessen drew applause when she assailed NPR for daring to use the term "misstatement" instead of "lie" when referring to a groaning misstatement by Donald J. Trump, the current American president.

"The word 'misstatement' as applied to Trump is actually a lie," the estimable Gessen said, drawing applause from the world's most brilliant audience. In these and other ways, we humans have constantly found ways to march ourselves off to war.

Those Jutes! They, and those who followed them, have given us many different ways to refer to inaccurate statements. Meanwhile, just as a simple matter of fact, Donald J. Trump, in the past six months, has issued a steady stream of groaning misstatements, many of which have been obviously false and/or baldly absurd.

That doesn't necessarily mean that his statements were lies, although they certainly may have been. Luckily, the Jutes and the Angles have left us with many ways to describe such inaccurate statements:
Various names for an inaccurate statement:
misstatement, falsehood, untruth, error, inaccuracy, misrepresentation, fabrication, exaggeration, distortion, prevarication, whopper, groaner, howler, fib, embellishment, tale, tall tale, invention
And so on. According to Austin, those words exist because people found, over thousands of years, that they help us draw useful distinctions. Or we can employ our one favorite word, marching ourselves off to war as we curtail our nation's public discussion.

Is Donald J. Trump a liar? Were his sometimes crazy, frequently obvious, repeated misstatements lies?

In the case of Donald J. Trump, the questions is clouded by a possibility many people have raised, though often just in passing. We refer to the possibility that Donald J. Trump may be mentally ill in some deeply unfortunate way.

Is it possible that Donald J. Trump is "mentally ill" in some way? Might that explain his gruesome behavior before the Boy Scouts this week? His many ridiculous statements, some of which ridiculously may even subject him to prosecution?

It isn't like major observers aren't willing to make that suggestion. Just last night, in the opening segment of The Last Word, former Bush official Peter Wehner offered this portrait of Trump:
WEHNER (7/28/17): Look, we've seen Donald Trump enough to know that he's fundamentally uncontrollable and uncontainable...The personnel at the White House is mediocre, there's no question about that. But the problem at its core is Donald Trump, and it is, at its core, that he is a person who thrives on chaos and manage with chaos.

But it's really deeper than that, Lawrence. It is a psychological and emotional affliction. He has a disoriented and disordered mind, and there is no controlling or containing that.
According to Wehner, Trump "has a disoriented and disordered mind," the fruit of "a psychological affliction." Wehner sat on a panel which included the Washington Post's Gene Robinson. He had referred to Trump in a column, that very same day, as "Mad King Donald."

To our eye and ear, Lawrence was still treating this as a form of cable amusement. As he did, the day drew nearer when Donald J. Trump—who is either a liar or the victim of a possibly disabling affliction—will launch his Korean war, endangering the whole world.

Wehner and Robinson are hardy alone in their fleeting suggestions. Yesterday afternoon, luxuriating at a chic happy hour, we stumbled back upon the words of the New Yorker's David Remnick, who asked this question, though fleetingly, in the July 10 issue:
REMNICK (7/10/17): Trump is hardly the first bad President in American history—he has not had adequate time to eclipse, in deed, the very worst—but when has any politician done so much, so quickly, to demean his office, his country, and even the language in which he attempts to speak? Every day, Trump wakes up and erodes the dignity of the Presidency a little more. He tells a lie. He tells another. He trolls Arnold Schwarzenegger. He trolls the press, bellowing “enemy of the people” and “fake news!”...The President’s misogyny and his indecency are well established. When is it time to question his mental stability?
"When is it time to question his mental stability?"

For us, that time arrived in February 2016. But as we noted yesterday, when Remnick raised this question with Maggie Haberman in a recent interview, Haberman refused to play, and Remnick moved right along.

Does the question of Trump's "mental stability" affect the question of his alleged lying? Well actually, yes it does, in several ways.

Gessen was happy to call Trump a liar; she said NPR was lying too, since they wouldn't use that word in their reporting on Trump. This childish desire to drop our bomb tends to curtail our public discussion of Trump.

It halts our discussion at a point which evokes the third grade playground, where "Your're a liar, no you're a liar." When this level of discussion is transferred to august lecture halls, everyone gets to go home feeling good, and we get to avoid a larger question concerning the possibility that the person who holds the nuclear codes is "mad" or gripped by a "psychological affliction" which eliminates his "mental stability" and leaves his mind "disordered."

When disordered people make false statements, they may not exactly be "lying." If we're willing to end our discussion of this peculiar person with our favorite bomb, we're behaving like third graders, and we're choosing to ignore the fact that Trump controls actual bombs of substantial power.

NPR has cited two reasons why reporters should, in most cases, tend to avoid use of the L-bomb. We think each of their reasons
made sense. We could add a third.

(When we stop discussing Trump's "gross misstatements" and start discussing his "lies," we liberals trade a fact-based discussion, and a debate we'll likely win, for a discussion many folk will quickly tune put and a second-order debate we are quite likely to lose. If we want an intelligent discourse which may help voters see the actual state of the world, this will tend to be a losing game, even if it makes us feel tribally good.)

Masha Gessen wants reporters to call Donald J. Trump a liar. This strikes us as a childish desire, one that's focused on the least of our possible worries concerning Donald J. Trump.

Why do we love to drop our bombs? As always, we think of the late Gene Brabender, an actual person and a character in Jim Bouton's famous book, Ball Four.

Brabender was a pitcher for a succession of major league teams. According to the leading authority on Bouton's book, it was "the only sports-themed book to make the New York Public Library's 1996 list of Books of the Century. It also is listed in Time magazine's 100 greatest non-fiction books of all time."

Brabender was portrayed by Bouton as a big, raw-boned country boy with little taste or tolerance for nuanced discussion. Late in the book, his patience is strained by an an absurd bullpen discussion concerning the circumstances which might enable a pitcher to maximize the number of strikeouts he records in the course of a nine-inning game.

Bouton describes the discussion as "insane," then describes Brabender's rising anger. After a comical discussion of the role of facts and disputed factual claims in the world, Brabender brings the discussion to a halt with this deathless oration:

"You're lucky. Where I come from, we just talk for a little while. After that we start to hit."

Given Brabender's size and strength, Bouton dryly said that he "felt lucky indeed."

We sometimes think of Brabender when our fellow liberals choose to "just talk for a little while" before starting to hit.

Our language gives us many ways to describe Donald J. Trump's long list of obvious absurd and peculiar misstatements. In our view, we ought to start using those words, as if life itself were at stake.

It may feel good to denounce his statements as lies. But this tends to stop the nation's discussion. More specifically, it tends to keep us from discussing our president's possible mental state.

As Gessen's audience burst into applause, that war with Korea drew a few minutes closer. In these and other ways, we the humans have always found ways to drive The Others farther away and march ourselves closer to war.

Is Donald J. Trump in the grip of an affliction? Does this affliction leave him with a mind that is "disoriented" and "disordered?" If so, he many not exactly be lying when he makes his peculiar statements.

Is he gripped by an affliction? Given the stakes, isn't it time we set cable amusements aside and actually started to ask?

48 comments:

  1. Lying and being mentally ill are not mutually exclusive. Mental illness may explain but does not excuse bad behavior.

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    1. Lying and being a crooked real estate businessman are also not mutually exclusive. When the lies and financial trickery are done consistently to enrich the businessman at the cost of others (e.g. defaulting on promises to pay contractors, or to perform what he was paid to do as with Trump U.), and he does in fact get rich thereby, the phrase “crazy like a fox” comes to mind: you can stop looking for mental illness as an explanation.

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  2. Replies
    1. Wow, a contribution! Why didn't you write your usual brilliant cut-and-paste job:

      "I don't know if, ad hominem hurts or helps or hurts, but it, is certainly the order of the day here, and, with more sadness than, of course, panties, it is impossible to escape, the fact, Bob Somerby's is an idiot."?

      I do notice you added a couple of extra words and typos (bravo!) to your usual work. But I know you're not lying. You actually believe it. How do you get by the captcha test? That is quite a mystery.

      Leroy

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    2. I'll smack you In the face fool. Those are not cut and pastes but genuine expressions of true sentiments. Not my fault if you hate freedom.

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  3. Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I think we’re beyond the hair-splitting Bob engages in on this topic – not that it isn’t important. Trump may in fact be mentally ill. He may not notice if a thing he said on Tuesday is completely contrary to what he said on Monday. Does it matter? Yes, but the forums Bob rightly criticizes are and have been for lo these many decades (centuries?) way beyond embracing this idea.

    But I found the subject on the subtleties of language interesting. I’m a fan of Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet,” and discovered that the original work was in Arabic, or some analog. That language is defined by subtleties that seem not to be encompassed by what we call English. To confirm what I thought I knew in regard to Arabic, I found this:

    Subtleties of Arabic Language

    James Joyner

    “John Burgess points out that “a single Arabic word can have six pages worth of definitions.

    “Not only does that have some significant implications for the interpretation of the Koran, the context of the observation, but it would seem to make diplomacy more problematic as well. Precise use of words is essential to negotiation; it would seem near impossible to achieve common understanding with that much flexibility.”

    I wonder if this is the crux of the biscuit in all of our dealings. With our dumbed-down culture, maybe Trump is speaking eloquently to vast swaths of people, including diplomats. (I know, I sound like the liberals Bob rightly demeans.)

    In fact, I think English has enough subtlety to define what’s important between cultures. But how it’s used, and disseminated far and wide by our modern modes of communication, leaves a lot to be desired. It’s enough to know that Trump “misspeaks,” or “lies” in such a constant manner that the distinction (almost) ceases to matter.

    Let’s go with “Trump is mentally ill,” and take it from there. I believe he is, by normative standards. The parsing of what he truly believes when he utters a single word then becomes irrelevant, at least as far as the truth is concerned.

    Leroy

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    1. Dammit! I wanted to include the link to the word "context,' which appears in Joyner's post:

      "Ms. Bakhtiar, who is 68 and has a doctorate in educational psychology, set out to translate the Koran because she found the existing version inaccessible for Westerners."

      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/25/us/25koran.html?ex=1332475200&en=83592cddb7f16c52&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

      Leroy

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    2. Stupid comment. What we feel most has no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses and birds.

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    3. Greg, take your meds.

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  4. Scott Adams (Dilbert cartoonist and big-time Trump supporter) has an interesting explanation. He says Trump uses words in a way that will change people's minds. In a sense Trump's words are indeed lies, but there's nothing insane about it. On the contrary, says Adams, his use of words is brilliant, because his words produce success.

    IMHO the same is true of Obama. When he repeated those false statements that helped the ACA get enacted, he just didn't care whether those words were factually inaccurate. He was saying the things that would lead him to success.

    In fact, I think many politicians routinely spin or exaggerate in order to achieve their desired goal. Trump does it more than most, but his use of words is pretty normal for a politician. Hence, the joke:

    How can you tell when a politician is lying?

    His lips are moving.

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    1. When Trump says repeatedly that when his inauguration started that the rain stopped immediately, but it is obvious it didn't, how do you interpret him getting it wrong?

      When Trump claims repeatedly he is so smart because his Uncle was a prefoessor at MIT, how do you interpret such a remark?

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    2. All politicians do not lie like that. Both Clinton and Sanders were largely truthful according to fact checkers during the campaign. Trump cannot be excused by cynicism.

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    3. No One Understands Donald Trump Like the Horny Narcissist Who Created Dilbert

      http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/09/dilbert_creator_scott_adams_gets_trump_like_no_one_else.html

      Here he is unforgettably (I’ve tried) attempting to hypnotize his readers into having the best orgasms of their lives (“I want you wet, or hard, and especially obedient …”).

      I think we have a clue now as to why Comrade DinC is so infatuated with Scott Adams.

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    4. Thanks for the link, mm. No doubt there's some truth in that analysis of Scott Adams. However, Ben Dolnick's nasty, supercilious tone turned me off. I would agree that Adams isn't as wonderful as he portrays himself, and neither is Trump. OTOH neither is Ben Dolnick.

      The one area where I think think Adams has a good point is that Trump's many lies are not an indication of mental illness or even of incompetence. Adams has provided pretty strong support for the idea that Trump's lies serve Trump, even though they have a big cost. They severely damaged Trump's reputation, but they helped Trump achieve a very, very impressive list of accomplishments.

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    5. Yes, Comrade DinC, we all know you love the lying sack of shit. Anything goes now for you. We are now a banana republic of fucking traitorous bastards such as yourself are cheering every step of the way. Adams says tRump is a fucking con man, a lying sack of shit flim flam man. He agrees with me. Yeah, he's accomplished a lot. Today is his 43rd day at a golf course as president.

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    6. "Trump's many lies are not an indication of mental illness or even of incompetence."

      He lies because he's a grifter, and the nation is full of marks (Hello, David in Cal, and about 80% of Republican voters).

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    7. David in Cal repeats a false statement for the umpteenth time.

      Obama did not repeat false statements to get the ACA enacted. David knows (because I have educated him on this several times) that all current health plans at the time the ACA was passed were grandfathered in. So, yes if you liked your health plan you could keep it:

      http://www.alternet.org/no-obama-didnt-lie-you-about-your-health-care-plans

      I am not aware of Trump changing anybody's mind. I do not know of any liberals that support Trump or his policies. The polls show his words do not have the positive outcome David suggests.

      Trump has failed to pass any legislation. His biggest goal was to repeal and replace Obamacare, which he failed at. Let a leading conservative website explain Trump's failure as president:

      http://www.redstate.com/jaycaruso/2017/07/18/president-donald-trump-six-months-failure-leadership/

      There is nothing impressive about Trump or his actions. There is no list of accomplishments.

      The article on the clownish Scott Adams did not have a nasty or supercilious tone, neither did it portray Ben Dolnick as wonderful; your statement claiming Ben Dolnick is not as wonderful as he portrays himself is unsubstantiated. You seem rather defensive about others constantly thinking they are superior to you. I doubt anybody thinks that or cares to compare themselves to you in that manner.

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    8. The only thing tRump is good at, Comrade DinC, is blaming others for his total incompetence and miserable failures.

      Nancy Pelosi summarized tRump's MO very nicely.

      First he tries to charm you.
      If that doesn't work, he tries to bully you.
      If that doesn't work, he walks away from the deal.
      If that doesn't work he sues you.

      That perfectly describes the only skills that fat ass lying sack of shit has. You see it already playing out in his abject failure to repeal and replace ACA with something really good and better than anything anybody could have ever gotten done, because he's such a fucking great deal maker. Now he's blaming his fellow republicans in congress for his failure. What the fuck did you vote for him for?

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    9. Trump's list of achievements is remarkable, whether you like him or not.
      -- Earned billions of dollars
      -- Created a hit TV show, The Aprentice, that ran for 12 years
      -- Made himself a TV star
      -- Authored over 15 best-selling books
      -- Got elected President

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    10. AnonymousJuly 30, 2017 at 11:42 AM -- I can see why you consider Trump a grifter. However, here's something to consider. Trump doesn't expect people to believe his lies.

      His opponents obviously castigate him for the lies. His supporters don't take Trump's statements literally. They understand these statements to indicate only a direction. E.g., when Trump said he would expel 11 million illegal immigrants, his supporters took that to mean that he would put a high priority on the problem of illegal immigration.

      Delete
    11. Unfortunately, Trump took himself literally. He has been trying to enact his program, exactly as stated, including the wall and the ban and so on. These were not metaphors or symbolic to him. They were literal.

      If you are trying to say that Trump's supporters were not as stupid as Trump himself, that won't wash. If his voters were even a little bit smarter than Trump they would have recognized his idiocy and NOT voted for him.

      Trump not only expects people to believe his lies (such as about his crowd size, an obvious symbol for another body part size), he goes into a rage when they disbelieve him.

      And are you seriously suggesting that when Trump signs a contract, he doesn't expect people to believe the terms of that contract? If so, that isn't the way anyone does business.

      Plus, I think you are paraphrasing wrong here. When Trump talks about expelling immigrants, his supporters believe that means he will send them back to wherever they came from, without protecting their heads as they are forced onto those buses.

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    12. Some people didn't take Hitler literally either. Look at the result.

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    13. His supporters don't take Trump's statements literally.

      This is the kind of horseshit tRump voters tell us now in order to make themselves appear to be not the total fucking dumbasses they truly are.

      Tell us, Comrade DinC, when the fucking CIC you voted for - you know, the one who mocked a disabled reporter, bragged about committing sexual assault and going into the dressing rooms of underage girls at his beauty pageants like a dirty old man to catch these teens naked - tells the country that he wants the ACA to "implode", what does he fucking mean. I lost my dumbfuck universal translator.

      Just in the past week or so, the CIC violated law by asking military servicemen and women to play politics for him, made a complete horses ass of himself in from of the fucking Boy Scouts of America after which the BSOA had to apologize to the country, and then topped it all off by encouraging the Sulfolk Co. police department to commit illegal abuse of prisoners after which fucking police departments all around the country had to state publicly that they won't listen to him. In addition, your asshole abomination orange pussygrabbing buffoon , who you claim you don't take literally issued a bizarre statement saying transgender persons will not be allowed in the military services, a bizarre tweet that the entire military is now forced to ignore.

      That's just like in the past week or so.

      You are such a fucking dishonest hypocrite. You used to get your silk panties in a wad because Hillary Clinton said had been a NY Yankee fan in her youth and you didn't believe her but this fucking abomination flim flam bullshit artist lying sack of shit lies big and small a hundred times a day and you defend it as some bizarre 3D chess game he's playing. Go fuck yourself, DinC, you're so transparent if you swallowed a light bulb you'd be a Japanese lantern.

      Delete
    14. -- Earned billions of dollars

      6 fucking bankruptcies, tax cheat, fraud, world record holder for law suits for stiffing his contractors. Born and lived his entire life in the financial capitol of the world, yet burned all his bridges and now forced to borrow money from corrupt overseas banks because American banks won't lend to him anymore. Money launderer for Russian mafia.

      -- Created a hit TV show, The Aprentice, that ran for 12 years

      No jackass, tRump had nothing whatsoever to do with creating that show. It was created by U.S.-based British producer Mark Burnett. tRump was just the fucking talent picked by his buddy Jeff Zucker. Fucking moron.

      -- Made himself a TV star

      If you want to label him a "star", be my guest, I never watched the filthy wretched boring show.

      -- Authored over 15 best-selling books

      Ghost written, every single one. Unlike Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton who has more brains in little finger than the orange pussygrabber will ever have.


      Tell me, Comrade DinC, when pussygrabber pervert lying sack of shit tRump promised he would never play golf as president, did you understand that to mean he would break all records for time on the golf course in his first six months while charging the American taxpayers for the privilege and protecting him on his own golf property? Please tell me how you didn't take him literally when he promised that often and repeatedly while on the campaign trail.

      Delete
    15. David in Cal @ 7/30 10:27 AM: “...Adams has a good point... Trump's many lies are not an indication of mental illness... Adams has provided pretty strong support for the idea that Trump's lies serve Trump....”

      From your keyboard to Bob Somerby’s eyes, a point on which we actually agree!

      Delete
    16. Cicero Pretending to be a Chinese CommenterJuly 30, 2017 at 7:37 PM

      That would make Bob Somerby a useful idiot and David in Cal simply another rube that Trump has hucked.

      Delete
    17. So now Trump supporters think he's lying, and Trump critics think he's lying.
      Is this a gambling site where you can bet on when the last person to figure it out (Bob Somerby) does so?

      Delete
  5. Mr Trump is fine; he certainly lies less than your average career politician, or a lawyer, or advertiser, or general, or corporate PR. And most definitely far, far less than a typical establishment journo. Not even close...

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    1. Why'd you leave off Christians, who lie more than all of them put together?

      Delete
  6. Does Bob Somerby think the use, without fail, of the precisely correct language by those associated with or belonging to the Democratic Party would help to advance social democratic policies with the electorate in this country, or is he just demonstrating how astute he is?

    If the former, there are two bad rhetorical habits liberals/progressives/leftists have fallen into that do more damage to their cause(s) than does their use of a too hyperbolic word or term for a given discussion. Democrats and their fellow travelers would be better served by giving up on being vague in proposing a policy agenda and on being verbose whenever talking to other than a wonk. (As for how deadly wordiness can be in making an effective argument, can anyone reading this thread at the Howler think up an example of a Democratic voter who makes the mistake of constantly employing that style of rhetoric for his blog posts?)

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  7. > “Democrats and their fellow travelers would be better served by giving up on being vague in proposing a policy agenda and on being verbose whenever talking to other than a wonk.”

    Wow, you’ve just accused them of simultaneous opposite offenses — as when, for instance, Obama (freshly having put through the very detailed ACA now still being complained of) proposed the detailed and already-paid-for AJA, American Jobs Act, to increase employment rates and income levels, then... even while pointing to that... was accused of “vagueness” when he talked about jobs programs. Meanwhile, the GOP in Congress accused him of doing nothing about jobs, even as they refused to pass the AJA....

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    1. Good Lord, if you think that AJA fact sheet you linked to is an example of a clear and concise political message to run on you must be a Democrat.

      Delete
    2. You're never happy! When and where they're brief, you say they're “vague”; when and where they give details, you say they're not “concise” enough!

      CMike, that fact sheet was a fact sheet, not a slogan or a bumper sticker; it had the appropriate [i.e. middling] level of detail for a fact sheet, which is why I linked it — to address your complaint about “vagueness”... only for you to hop back onto the other foot....

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    3. The American voter likes words more than actions. If we're going to win them over, we need to speak their language. Maybe something like, "I support white supremacy, and here is my Jobs Plan (or healthcare program, or foreign policy objectives, etc)..."

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    4. Hillary had lots of plans and programs, all described on her webpage, all discussed at her rallies. She didn't win because she is female, not because she had no jobs plans etc. Oh, and she refused to tell the coal miners that the coal industry was coming back. I think that counts in the honesty column.

      Delete
    5. Quick Resisters, send Chuck "I don't know why it didn't happen in the campaign" Shumer Raven's link to that 2011 Obama fact sheet. Don't make our Democratic leader in the senate reinvent the wheel, flash Shumer a look at some of that rhetorical rocket fuel Obama used to transform Washington into a city dominated by elected and appointed Republicans. [LINK]

      Delete
    6. "... that rhetorical rocket fuel that Obama used blah, blah, blah."

      Go with your instincts, unicorn hunter: blame it on the black guy. Almost as ignorant as writing in Bernie Sanders in 2016.

      Delete
    7. @4:20 PM,

      Poorly played, now you can't call me anti-Semitic in this thread.

      Delete
    8. Fair enough. That leaves dumb unicorn hunter.

      Delete
  8. Bob Somerby: From time to time institutions have been taken over by crooks: merchant ships and navy vessels have been hijacked by pirates and used to raid yet other ships as well as shore settlements; banks and other financial organizations established by honest businessfolk have been taken over by thieves and/or mobsters to be looted or loot many more; and even nations have been taken over by kleptocrats, viz. Russia.

    And there will be apologists and propagandists — flacks for hire, or even for free — ready to say, Oh no, this is all okay, it’s perfectly normal, go on investing your money with Madoff/Enron/Lehman/Cendant/Worldcom/etc...

    Your fallback for Trump [who has a long sordid business history himself] seems to be: Oh no, he’s not being deliberately dishonest, this is all random neuron sparking from a mental disorder.

    To which anyone with any statistics background might raise a skeptical hand and ask: Then why is it that these “misstatements” always, consistently, serve his interests, i.e. are for him and against others? That seems very convenient, and not so random; also a pattern of long standing, going at least back to his tutelage under Joe McCarthy’s old buddy Roy Cohn, from whom Trump learned lots of other business strategies he’s used, with lawyers/partners/family/staff in on the planning — not impromptu spur-of-the-moment rash actions, but part of a calculated business model.

    You would have us look away from that long shady track record, and treat Trump as though he had been utterly honest up to the point, but only now, suddenly, aberrantly, descended into a pattern of “misstatements”... surely a sign of mental disorder!

    Sorry, that won’t wash. This is a man with a history of, among other things, stiffing contractors and other people he owed money. That’s crazy like a chicken-stealing fox. The dishonesty didn't just start now.

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  9. So, reading this again, it appears that Bob is just as much a victim of the Trump Deragement Syndrome as any other IYI (per Nicholas Taleb). The issue - to Bob - is not that the neolib-neocon establishment is running a smear campaign against the figure representing working class rebelion, but only that the smear campaign is not utilizing the most efficient methods, effective words. Describe him as crazy instead of evil - and your smear campaign will be more effective - is that it, Bob? Oh, well.

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    1. "the figure representing working class rebellion", just hired a hedge fund manager and VP of Goldman Sachs to his communication team.
      Marks, like Mao and Republican voters, are being played like fiddles. And it's so EASY. Give 'em a little bigotry, and they'll hand you their wallets.

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  10. Reading Bruce Barton's famous book, seems to show the basis of the Trump philosophy. "all achieving characters have a sublime disregard of criticism. 'Never explain; never retract; never apologize; get it done and let them howl," was the motto of a great Englishman. It might well have been the motto of Jesus." p. 38

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    1. Bruce Barton was no angel, and certainly not like Jesus. He popularized a severe misrepresentation of Jesus to give cover for businesses to perpetuate their corruption.

      I would argue there is no Trump philosophy, he is extremely reactionary - in both senses of the word. I do not see how that quote applies to Trump, just with the Obamacare issue he has been all over the map - he definitely responds to criticism, described here by a conservative:

      http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/peggy-noonan-trumps-a-drama-queen/article/2629969

      I would also argue that most achieving characters (a cohort Trump does not belong to) do not disregard criticism, for example scientists thrive on criticism.

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  11. Lord have mercy. Bob's commentary section was far more sane when it had nothing but spam from the Spellcasters.

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